Redbone

The Essential Redbone

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Redbone may have been the first Native American rock band to score a Top Ten hit with 1974's "Come and Get Your Love," but there is nothing particularly "essential" about that track. It's a pop single like so many others on the radio at the time, with a great hook, a charming melody that got swiped for countless other singles by other bands, and lightweight lyrics. Some of the other material here, such as "The Witch Queen of New Orleans," is just plain dumb and should never have been included, while the various elements that made up Redbone, such as a love of easy funk, Santana, War, the earlier Doobie Brothers sound, and the swampy blues-funk of Tony Joe White, are far more interesting and play themselves out on pop-soul numbers like "One Monkey," "Maggie," "One More Time," "Jerico," and "Fais-Do." But it's the Native American chants, rhythms, and melodies that form the architecture of tunes like "Niji Trace," "Message from a Drum," and "Chant: 13th Hour" and they are far more compelling -- and not just for musicological interest but for how well they hold up over time as examples of cultural miscegenation. There are "songs" here, but there are far better moments, and those moments make for an interesting listen or two.

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